It was pouring with rain on Saturday afternoon. Natalie had some work she needed to do. And I didn’t much feel like doing anything except hang out with the dogs. So I propped myself up on the bed, a Labrador lying along each leg, laptop balanced on my knees, and watched a movie I’d downloaded a few days ago. It’s called ‘Minimalism: A documentary about the important things’. And it’s incredible. In fact, it’s probably changed my life. Continue reading
As we enter the ‘cold and windy’ part of the rainy season here in Somerset, it’s welly boots all round whenever we leave the house. Especially if we’re walking the dogs, as all of our normal walks are now several inches deep in the boggy stuff.
Pulling on my wellies for this morning’s trundle, I was reminded of a recent visit to one of my consulting clients, an agricultural college with a thriving community of farming and equestrian students. Arriving a little early for a meeting, I popped over to the campus cafe.
I was greeted by a huge pile of welly boots stacked up outside the door. Inside, a horde of students, clearly having just finished their early morning chores around the farm and stables, was drinking gallons of hot chocolate and steaming up the windows with their excited chatter. Continue reading
I received a lovely email today from an editor for whom I write from time to time. He has an idea for an article that he’d like written, and he thinks I’m just the person to write it. And knowing that I’m quite busy, he’s even suggested that I provide him with a deadline that would work for me. This sort of email is what writers love. But this particular one reminded me of a theory I’ve been working on. Continue reading
Now that the clocks have gone back, the nights truly are drawing in. Here in Somerset, the sun sets well before 5pm now and it’s pretty much dark by six. Which means that, for the days when I’m working at home, we’ve had to switch to our ‘winter’ evening schedule. But, to be honest, I’m struggling. Continue reading
Anyone who has a dog will know that their sense of smell is far superior to our own. But how does their nose work? What is it capable of? And what can we learn from our dogs about the world around us?
In ‘Being a dog: Following the dog into a world of smell’, psychologist and animal behaviourist Alexandra Horowitz sets out to answer these questions.
She learns from experts in all things scent and scentwork, from perfume creators to truffle dog trainers. And she observes her own dogs in their scent-based world.
Horowitz also works to improve her own sense of smell, engaging with ‘scent tours’ around the city, participating in experiments and training herself to be more aware of the smells around her.
I really like this book, with its fusion of scientific investigation and personal experiences. Sure, it does go off on a bit of a tangent at times, but overall it’s a highly enjoyable read.
It also provides an excellent overview of the different ways in which dogs can be trained to use their sense of smell, from search and rescue to the detection of explosives, cancer and (my personal favourite) Orca scat (yes, that’s Killer Whale poo).
There are lots of books about how the sense of smell works. And there are plenty about the different ways in which dogs use their sense of smell to help us. But there are very few that explore both. And I have yet to find one that does it as well as this one.
In the last day or so, I’ve read a couple of things that have got me thinking. Just little phrases, no more than snippets of a bigger idea, that have been churning around in my brain ever since. They’ve started a train of thought. And I think they’re worth sharing. Continue reading
Having been away for a couple of days during the week, I started the day today with a long list of things I wanted to get done. A bit of work, some projects in the garden, a good long walk or two with the dogs, perhaps lunch out somewhere, catching up with some reading, and a training session or two with Ozzy*. But I think we all know, of course, that was never really going to happen. Continue reading
While tax isn’t everyone’s first choice of topic for dinner party discussions, it really should be. Because tax is important. And paying tax is important. It is how we fund the things that our society needs. Like healthcare, roads, defence and environmental protection. And so, with this week just gone being Fair Tax Week, I thought I’d take a few moments to talk about my own company, Sockmonkey Consulting’s, approach to paying tax fairly.
I don’t really have a favourite time of the year. Because every one of the seasons is special to me in its own way. Summer is about spending quality time in the outdoors. Autumn is about enjoying the changing colours of the trees and getting ready for winter. Winter itself is about hunkering down and staying indoors with a good book and a nice cup of tea. Continue reading
It’s just over six weeks until the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union. Whether our Government will manage to agree a deal on our departure, though, or whether we’ll just ‘crash out’ without a deal (or, indeed, whether we’ll decide to not leave at all, or to not leave quite yet, or to have a second referendum, or perhaps to have another general election) remains to be seen. It’s all a bit of a mess. And it’s making me quite cross. But what angers me most is not the act of leaving, but rather the mess that this whole sorry affair has made of our country. Continue reading